Saturday, 3 May 2014

Is equality irreducible?

If a sentient being from a far off world is observing this planet, and specifically the human species, would she assume that each specimen had equal rights? I don't mean empirically, I mean, why would she conclude that some people had acquired the power to control, to a large extent, what others do all day.

If we had equal rights, some argue, there would be no incentive to work. And your rights only derived from your fulfilling of your responsibilities.

But who determines what your responsibilities are, and to who they are and how did they get into that position? Yes you can sit down and from first principles work out what your responsibilities might be, but in practice, who controls what you actually have to do?

Admittedly, many people have some scope to choose what they do with their lives, but they select from a palette of activities that has been prepared by whom? Those who have control of money.

This palette is for most people a selection of ways of selling their labour for income, which is what the majority of us have to do for a large proportion of our lives in order to survive. Yes there are mechanisms to tide you over lean periods, but these are there so that those in control have enough people around to deliver the work that is unavoidable if they are to maintain their position, which work extends to that needed to protect them from raids by people wanting the means to survival.

Thus the system allows government, because government can exercise military power to stop people from abroad taking the assets of the rich, and can operate a police force, which serves to try to prevent people just taking what they need, and a health service to try to keep people sufficiently active to maintain the balance that the controllers of money need to ensure they remain in control.

... to be continued (maybe)